The arrests were made as part of Operation Community Shield, an ongoing initiative by the ICE HSI National Gang Unit in which the agency uses its powerful immigration and customs authorities in a coordinated strategy to attack and dismantle criminal street gangs across the country. As part of the initiative, ICE partners with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to target the significant public safety threat posed by transnational gangs.
Of those arrested, 18 are from Mexico, six are from Honduras, three are from El Salvador and one is from Guatemala. Five individuals will be considered for federal prosecution for re-entry after deportation - a federal violation that carries a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison, fraud and misuse of visas and misuse of social security cards. Another individual faces state prosecution on drug charges. Those foreign nationals who are not being prosecuted on criminal charges are being processed for removal from the United States.
"Street gangs account for a significant amount of crime at both the national and local levels," said Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., special agent in charge of ICE HSI in New Orleans. "HSI works closely with our local law enforcement partners to identify, locate and arrest these gang members to thwart criminal activity in our communities. Ultimately, ICE deports them."
Since Operation Community Shield began in February 2005, ICE special agents nationwide have arrested more than 18,000 gang members and gang associates. As part of the effort, HSI's National Gang Unit identifies violent street gangs and develops intelligence on their membership, associates, criminal activities and international movements to deter, disrupt and dismantle gang operations. Transnational street gangs have significant numbers of foreign-born members and are frequently involved in human and contraband smuggling, immigration violations and other crimes with a connection to the border.
To report suspicious activity, call ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline at: 1-866-347-2423 or visit www.ice.gov.